My formative elementary school years were spent at a little Catholic school nestled in a predominantly Mexican community. We had bilingual weekday Masses. On Sundays, ladies in the community would sell tamales after church. The parish festival always showcased the beautiful Ballet Folklorico. And on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, there were the Mariachis. So growing up, I wasn’t a stranger to many Mexican traditions.
Yes, however. There was this one time when I was in fifth grade, and our class was prepping for the school-sponsored Pancake and Menudo breakfasts that would happen every so often after the Sunday Masses. And our class was assigned to bring a variety of supplies for the menudo portion of the menu. And I think I volunteered to bring jalapeños.
So I went home and I told my mom that I was supposed to bring jalapeños to school by Friday. She said no problem. We ventured off to the supermarket in search of jalapeños. Well, when we got there there was an array of green peppers of all kinds. And we were totally unfamiliar with what a jalapeño looked like. We were lost.
We thought we knew what they looked like. And in our defense, the labels were missing. The signs that are supposed to lead you to the right produce were conveniently missing. So we bought what we thought were jalapeños. Could we have asked someone? Sure, but we were convinced that we were buying the right thing.
Yeah, we were wrong.
When I brought the produce to school that week and ponied up my contribution, I got funny looks from the other kids in my class. The kids who knew and could correctly identify a jalapeño. I remember one kid was like, “What is that? That’s not a jalapeño!” I was totally embarrassed.
But I will never mis-identify a jalapeño again. That’s for sure.
So in honor of my fifth grade blunder and seeing that it’s Cinco de Mayo, here’s my grandmother’s recipe for Pico de Gallo. We’re not Mexican, but I promise it’s tasty.
5-7 roma tomatoes
1 yellow or red onion
1 bunch cilantro
2-3 garlic cloves
salt to taste
You could just chop everything. I use the food processor. Don’t use a blender. I tried that at first. Good for making pico juice, if that is your plan.
Combine all the ingredients. Salt to taste. Enjoy!
This is what it would look like chopped:
Happy Cinco de Mayo!